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Cablegate: Goi Update On Crossings and Fuel Situation in Gaza

VZCZCXRO9570
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #1844/01 1701425
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191425Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1788
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0053

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 001844

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/STEINGER; NSC FOR ABRAMS/WATERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON KPAL KWBG PGOV PHUM IS
SUBJECT: GOI UPDATE ON CROSSINGS AND FUEL SITUATION IN GAZA

Sensitive but unclassified -- please protect accordingly

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: COGAT confirmed to EconOff on June 19 that
most of the Gaza border crossings are effectively closed.
However, the GOI is facilitating import of humanitarian goods
into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing and working
on an alternate mechanism at Erez crossing point to assist
people to exit Gaza on a humanitarian basis. GOI contacts
said that they were exploring opening an alternate route for
passengers to cross Erez and having an independent
organization -- such as the ICRC -- serve as an
administrative authority on the Palestinian side. As for
commercial goods, GOI contacts reported that there is still
no Palestinian counterpart at Karni, but that pressure was
mounting to re-open the cargo terminal -- especially from
Israeli fruit growers who export to Gaza and are losing money
as a result of the glut of fruit on the Israeli market due to
the closure at Karni. Finally, contacts at the Israeli Fuel
Authority and at Dor Alon told EconOff that Dor Alon had
resumed shipments of all petroleum products into Gaza through
the Nahal Oz crossing June 18. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Lt. Col. Daniel Beaudoin, Deputy of the Foreign
Relations Branch of the office of the Coordinator of
Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT), confirmed to
EconCouns on June 19 that although most of the border
crossings are effectively closed, the GOI is facilitating
import of humanitarian goods into Gaza and working on a
mechanism to assist people to exit Gaza on a humanitarian
basis.

---------------------------------------
FACILITATING HUMANITARIAN CASES AT EREZ
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Maj. Peter Lerner, Head of International Relations
at Erez Crossing Point, told EconOff that Erez was briefly
open on June 18 for pedestrian traffic with special
coordination, but was closed after a large crowd of
Palestinians attempting to flee Gaza rushed the crossing.
Lerner observed that the main Palestinian point of contact
with whom the GOI normally coordinates movement of people
through the crossing had "disappeared," leaving the Crossings
Authority without a Palestinian counterpart. As a result,
virtually anyone could queue up at Erez, and approximately
200 people -- including refugees, people with valid permits,
and foreign nationals -- were stranded at the crossing, which
was closed due to the crowding. The GOI provided food and
water for those stranded, and has planned a "pilot alternate
mechanism" to allow humanitarian cases, journalists, and
foreign nationals -- including U.S. citizens -- through the
crossing point via a single pedestrian passenger lane. GOI
contacts indicated that if the pilot crossing scheme works,
it might be expanded at a later date. However, no Israeli
contact could explain how this alternate lane for egress from
Gaza would be secured.

4. (SBU) Independently, Gen. (ret) Baruch Spiegel of the
Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF) told EconCouns that the
GOI was exploring opening an alternate route for passengers
to cross Erez and having an independent organization -- such
as the ICRC -- serve as an administrative authority on the
Palestinian side. Spiegel commented that independent
organizations in Gaza currently do not have sufficient
personnel or expertise to carry out such a task, but that the
GOI was formulating a plan of action.

----------------------
PRESSURE TO OPEN KARNI
----------------------

5. (SBU) Spiegel also said that Abu Nabil, the GOI's
Palestinian point of contact for Karni, has been trying to
re-establish his place at Karni. NGO contacts told us that
Israeli fruit growers -- especially those in the Galilee who
export to Gaza -- have been pressuring the GOI to re-open
Karni because the resulting glut of fruit on the Israeli
market has caused prices to fall and has cost farmers almost
USD 5 million in lost profits.

------------
KEREM SHALOM
------------

6. (U) COGAT contacts confirmed to EconOff that the GOI had
opened the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing point June 19 for the
following humanitarian goods to be brought into Gaza:

TEL AVIV 00001844 002 OF 002

-- ten truckloads of food from the World Food Programme;
-- one truckload of medical supplies from the World Health
Organization;
-- two truckloads of medical supplies from the ICRC.

In addition, UNICEF plans to include 36 boxes of vaccinations
in another consignment scheduled for June 20.

------------
FUEL IMPORTS
------------

7. (SBU) Ehud Yichieli of the Israel Fuel Authority told
EconOff that Dor Alon had resumed shipments of all petroleum
products into Gaza through the Nahal Oz crossing June 18.
Dismissing press reports as "exaggeration," he said that the
gasoline supply was briefly reduced -- at the request of the
PA -- after it became apparent that Hamas forces had taken
over Gaza. Eli Misav, Director of Technology at Dor Alon,
acknowledged that the company's management was worried that
it would not receive payment from the Palestinians, but
emphasized that the company was coordinating with the GOI to
avoid a humanitarian crisis and to ensure that the population
in Gaza would continue to receive fuel. (Note: According to
NGO sources, new Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had
paid Dor Alon in advance in order to ensure that fuel
shipments to Gaza continued. End note.) Yichieli confirmed
to EconOff that the following was brought into Gaza on June
18 via Nahal Oz:

-- cooking gas (eight truckloads totaling 200 tons);
-- benzene (four truckloads totaling 200,000 liters);
-- diesel for power plant (seven truckloads totaling 300,000
liters);
-- diesel (12 truckloads totaling 547,000 liters).


********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
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